The New Evangelisation

The Synod of Bishops has just completed its latest meeting, and it has delivered a message to the People of God (that’s us !!!), in this Year of Faith, about the New Evangelisation.

Now — quite apart from the fact that the English translation of this message is stylistically flawed ; the contents of the message have not prevented the usual suspects from reacting to the declaration in their habitual manner.

Whether it’s to claim this message as more “proof” that Vatican II was “the Devil’s Council”, or to use the message as an occasion to heap abuse on Pope Benedict XVI, or leap onto their own personal hobby horse to ride into battle over Ecumenism, or Communion in the Hand, or the inherent goodness of the SSPX, or &c… the one feature that they ALL seem to have in common is that they do not deal with ANY of the actual contents of the message.

But I personally find that there are many contents in this message that are quite worth thinking about !!!

One comment in particular strike me as being rather wise :

5. Evangelizing ourselves and opening ourselves to conversion

We, however, should never think that the new evangelization does not concern us personally. In these days voices among the Bishops were raised to recall that the Church must first of all heed the Word before she could evangelize the world. The invitation to evangelize becomes a call to conversion.

We firmly believe that we must convert ourselves above all to the power of Christ who alone can make all things new, above all our poor existence. With humility we must recognize that the poverty and weaknesses of Jesus’ disciples, especially of his ministers, weigh on the credibility of the mission. We are certainly aware – we Bishops first of all – that we could never really be equal to the Lord’s calling and mandate to proclaim his Gospel to the nations. We know that we must humbly recognize our vulnerability to the wounds of history and we do not hesitate to recognize our personal sins. We are, however, also convinced that the Lord’s Spirit is capable of renewing his Church and rendering her garment resplendent if we let him mold us. This is demonstrated by the lives of the Saints, the remembrance and narration of which is a privileged means of the new evangelization.

If this renewal were up to us, there would be serious reasons to doubt. But conversion in the Church, just like evangelization, does not come about primarily through us poor mortals, but rather through the Spirit of the Lord. Here we find our strength and our certainty that evil will never have the last word whether in the Church or in history: “Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid” (John 14:27), Jesus said to his disciples.

The work of the new evangelization rests on this serene certainty. We are confident in the inspiration and strength of the Spirit, who will teach us what we are to say and what we are to do even in the most difficult moments. It is our duty, therefore, to conquer fear through faith, humiliation through hope, indifference through love.

So — the first step of the New Evangelisation, is to start by evangelising ourselves, or let ourselves be evangelised by others ?

It’s hard to reconcile this call to us from the Holy Father in communion with the Synod, with the knee-jerk reactions of some of our more skeptical brethren !!!

Second, the key to the New Evangelisation is not to try and do our own will, but to let the Will of the Christ work its own way through us ?

Well I can most certainly agree with this wisdom, and it’s clearly our best and only defense against the heresy of Modernism !!!

Revelation is not, after all, something that we have the power to control, or even understand, with our minds — but it’s that part of God and our relationship with God that we can understand in our souls. If we say “God is this”, or “God is that”, then I think we are far from His Kingdom indeed.

But then, so it is with the New Evangelisation — if we say the New Evangelisation is “this” or “that”, then how are we Evangelising ourselves ? How are we letting the Christ speak through our words ?

Shouldn’t we let ourselves simply be open to the opportunities that come our way, as God provides them, and let open our souls to the reactions to them that Prayer, or Graces, or Charisms might send to us, and then just speak or write the words that come with them ? It does not matter if these are just the words of our own minds, because the Christ can inspire us there as well – for as long as we never confuse the contents of our solitary minds with what the Christ wishes to be taught.

Revelation is given to us, together, not separately — our Faith in Revelation is that whatever one might neglect to say, through ignorance or lack of talent, will surely be said by another of the Faithful.

Quiet when we listen, thoughtful when we meditate, open and direct when we speak — this is the way of the Christian when we consider the Revelation of God.

Whatever is “new” about this Evangelisation concerns the surrounding culture, and the new technologies — as well as the failures of the past. Can we content ourselves with the simplistic catechesis of the 1970s and 1980s ? Can we cling to the false rebellions of these or those that have sprung up in the individualism of the culture ? Can we shut ourselves up in our talking shops, and our parish halls, and our cosy little online groups ?

Yes, we are facing a massive onslaught from the militant atheists, the indifferentists, the secularist politicians, the internet trolls, and in our daily lives all too often from our own families, our friends, our workmates, and all too many complete strangers with a chip on their shoulder. And one is sorely tempted to heed the Christ’s own advice to shake the dust off our feet, and move along…

But when they come knocking on our own door, we must stand firm and straightforward in our defense of the Revelation, that is Evangelisation.

We are become the body and the blood of the Christ in the Holy Eucharist, and the New Evangelisation is simply to declare our Faith and the Truth of God in the face of a hostile crowd that is pressing at our gates.

{6:12} For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, against the directors of this world of darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in high places.
{6:13} Because of this, take up the armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand the evil day and remain perfect in all things.
{6:14} Therefore, stand firm, having been girded about your waist with truth, and having been clothed with the breastplate of justice,
{6:15} and having feet which have been shod by the preparation of the Gospel of peace.
{6:16} In all things, take up the shield of faith, with which you may be able to extinguish all the fiery darts of the most wicked one.
{6:17} And take up the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit (which is the Word of God).
{6:18} Through every kind of prayer and supplication, pray at all times in spirit, and so be vigilant with every kind of earnest supplication, for all the saints,
{6:19} and also for me, so that words may be given to me, as I open my mouth with faith to make known the mystery of the Gospel,
{6:20} in such a manner that I may dare to speak exactly as I ought to speak. For I act as an ambassador in chains for the Gospel. (Ephesians)

{8:38} For I am certain that neither death, nor life, nor Angels, nor Principalities, nor Powers, nor the present things, nor the future things, nor strength,
{8:39} nor the heights, nor the depths, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans)


26 thoughts on “The New Evangelisation

  1. Curses !! Fairly new at this, so I just lost a long new post I’d basically just finished writing.

    That’ll teach me not to use Word instead, and then cut’n’paste !!

    (oh well, I can rebuild it later, or tomorrow I guess — it’s something I’ve been mulling over in the back of my mind for months anyway, and it’ll basically re-write itself…)

  2. My condolences Jabba. It’s happened to me before too, more than once! 😉

    I think this is a wonderful article above. There’s just one thing you say that I would query…….. “If we say “God is this”, or “God is that”, then I think we are far from His Kingdom indeed.” Really?
    Whereas it is true God is the ‘I AM” and far above any qualitative descriptions little insignificant man can give to Him, we have no other means other than words to express what God means to us. Therefore when we say He is All-Merciful, Almighty, Love, Beauty, Goodness, etc……. or even rather negative descriptions such as Judgmental or Angry (as in the OT) we are only describing our simple ways of ‘seeing’ God.
    Having been made in His Image and Likeness, we can do that…….. and not necessarily be ‘far’ from His Kingdom. Do you agree?

  3. Thanks kathleen !!!

    I’m actually busy with one of my all-too-rare IT jobs (it’s just SO annoying to be hampered by ill health), so that my recreation of the post will have to wait a bit more …

    curses !!!

    You ask a good question.

    Heresies arise either from claims that God *is* this (to the exclusion of that), or that He is *not* that (to the exclusion of this).

    Sometimes such claims are right ; more often though, they are just attempts to subject God to the laws of our human rationality.

    In fact, we are recipients of the immanent bounty of His delicate infinity.

  4. I’m really sorry to hear about your health problems Jabba…… must be a heavy Cross to shoulder.

    Thanks for you explanation. Yes, I see what you mean in the sense that one could “box God in”….. sort of turn Him into our own little ‘god’ to suit ourselves. Transcendence is something so above our understanding that this is just another sign of man’s foolishness.
    Yet those who try to talk about God in humility and obedience to the Church’s teaching, using words of love, are doing no more that trying to grapple with a mystery so that they can draw closer to Him. Like little children trying to understand the great big world into which they have so suddenly entered. It is hard to imagine God being displeased with them. 😉

    As I’m sure you know, after St Thomas Aquinas had his vision of God, he was so completely bowled over that he was unable to write any further on theology, saying that all his great works had been no more than “straw”. Says a lot, doesn’t it?

    • Yes — Aquinas was quite right to do so !!!

      Despite the apparently contradictory fact (from my own point of view) that I was quite incapable of writing about theology until *after* the Holy Virgin graciously provided a Vision of the Divine for me, and for my sins and failures …

      Aquinas is nearly always spot on in his writings, but in the very rare cases where his theology is wrong, the failure can be fairly complete.

      In my opinion, his Vision is fairly equivalent to an imprimatur — that is to say, a message that his theological work was complete, and that adding anything more to it would be a betrayal of its Source of Inspiration.

      Saint Bernadette Soubirous was far closer to God than Aquinas ever was during his life … but Aquinas’ intensively passionate desire for Truth and Life led him there by an amazing Gift of personal Grace from the Almighty Spirit of God.

      • That is really interesting Jabba, and it makes a lot of sense. I must admit to not having read a great deal of Aquinas myself. Would you mind telling me where you think he was “wrong” in his theology though? I know he was not in favour of declaring the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, and as you mention the lovely St. Bernadette – to whom the Blessed Virgin revealed herself under this name, four years after the dogma was pronounced as an infallible teaching by Pope Pius IX – do I assume you are referring to this?

        Must just add (and not wishing to embarrass you); I can understand why you were singled out for your “Vision of the Divine”…… and your subsequent conversion. You have also become a “source of inspiration” for many of us over the internet.

      • Thank you kathleen — I am of course in no position to define the purpose of these gifts, except insofar as their first purpose was my conversion — so that whatever effect my speaking of them may have is beyond my knowledge.

        I simply say the truth as I have received it, which is anyway the same truth that we all of us receive from the teachings of our Catholic Church, and wherever those seeds may fall is not something that I can either anticipate or control.

        The New Evangelisation is founded on the humility of our souls towards the Revelation — the Revelation can speak for God, but we of our own selves and powers cannot.

        It is based, very simply, on saying the truths of the Faith when it is requested of us by circumstance, by whichever means are appropriate to that request.

        It is based on trust in and love for God.

  5. Sorry to hear of health problem. Tho’ I’ve no idea of what it is, don’t forget, good diet, exercise, and limiting the time in front of a keyboard. We could all do that I suppose and I’m going to try. Think about it?

    • Thank you Pastorius — in fact, the amount of time spent with the keyboard is a consequence of the health questions, not a cause …

      Generally speaking, I fully agree with you, and thank you for your kind words.

  6. J, I was in a job, which I knew in my bones was doing me in. But I thought, oh! I need the money. A crisis came. I left. Then I saw my hideous errors.
    Don’t be like me, be wise.
    Apply this poultice.

    • How on earth (or anywhere else, for that matter) do you know that, Jabba?

      That’s a fair enough question, but ultimately, mysticism is closer to God than intellectuality.

  7. J, be so careful here, re:mysticism. You are new to the Catholic Church so I counsel you now. You could be on a slippery slope.

    You don’t deserve the disappointment. Look at Merton, tho’ no doubt you have. You will not toe the line against your honest thinking. Then there will be tears.

    • By “mysticism” I mean, of course, traditional Catholic mysticism — NOT transcendental meditation or yoga or any other such unchristian practices.

      And your warning is a wise one, nonetheless.

  8. .

    “…ultimately, mysticism is closer to God than intellectuality.”

    How do you know that, either, Jabba?

    You don’t. You think it, you believe it, but YOU DON’T KNOW IT. The statement can neither be verified or falsified. Therefore, it is utterly incoherent.

    You, like a great many Catholics, (and Hindus, and Muslims, and God knows who all else, to be sure) just spout such meaningless “thoughts” with no absolutely evidence to back them up. I can say this on here because I know you won’t be offended, any more than I would be, on my blog.

    You might as well say, “Ultimately, green is closer to Birmingham than pink.”

    Anyway, one thing Aquinas thought was that a foetus does not possess a soul until some way into pregnancy, until which point abortion is not murder.
    I get this from Anthony Kenny, who probably – only probably, mind you I don’t know for sure – knows more about Aquinas than anyone else on earth.

    • I can say this on here because I know you won’t be offended


      How do you know that, either, Jabba?

      You don’t. You think it, you believe it, but YOU DON’T KNOW IT. The statement can neither be verified or falsified. Therefore, it is utterly incoherent.

      I’ve no idea why you’re even questioning it — either we commune with Christ via Holy Eucharist in the Mystical Body of the Church, or we don’t.

      It’s the counter-claim that you’re suggesting that is incoherent — we either have a mystical relationship with God, or we have no relationship with Him at all.

      Any relationship with the Divine order of reality is necessarily of a mystical nature, by very definition of the word “mystical” itself.

      This mysticism can become manifest in the intellectuality, so that intellectual causes can sometimes have a mystical consequence in Christ — but not every intellectuality will lead there.

      And intellectuality can also lead one away from God.

      As for verification and falsification — you are of course aware that these are activities that belong to scientific methodology ; it’s hard to see why you think that they should be germane to philosophy or theology, which are not scientific disciplines.

      Otherwise :

      Anyway, one thing Aquinas thought was that a foetus does not possess a soul until some way into pregnancy, until which point abortion is not murder.

      hmmm, I’ve looked into this question more than once, and in fact what Aquinas actually does is to simply quote the received scientific and philosophical position of his peers and those of the philosophical tradition.

      He does not declare such a thing, he simply declares that so-and-so teaches such-and-such on this question.

      His personal opinion on the matter is very limited, but he was himself an opponent of abortion in every case.

      That paraphrase of what Aquinas wrote, as you provide it, is more a casuistic statement of the degree of sin that was attached to abortion by the clergy of his day and age than a discussion of the nature of abortion itself, nor that of “ensoulment”.

  9. .

    Well, you are sort of right about verification and falsification.
    The Logical Positivists tried to apply these (the first at least, to everything in the world. And it didn’t work. They realised they couldn’t even “verify ” Logical Positivism.

    “….we either have a mystical relationship with God, or we have no relationship with Him at all.” That’s very likely true. I realise I don’t even know what a mystical relationship is.
    Unless it’s what I have with, for example, my dogs. It is a mystical mystery why I am so fond of them.
    A stinking bunch of brainless curs.

    What I find difficult about Catholicsm’s (or many other “isms”) dogmatism is that they very often seem to be saying something like, Flaubert is a better writer than Balzac.” Totally categoric about unquantifiable things.
    Which persuades me to ask, “How do you know that?”

  10. It also strikes me – that now your have your own, shiny, blog, you might consider a bit of autoblogoraphy.

    I, for one, would like to know more about your revelation, or whatever it was.

    Ignore the ·”Flaubert ” biz. Just senile ramblings.

  11. Aaaah, there’s never anything “senile” about mentioning the comparative merits of the great Flaubert and the great Balzac !!!

    As for an autoblogoraphy, alas, we sit here not just in the company of good friends, but also in that of our bitterest Enemy, and his many online servants and angels.

    Such revelation as I have been gifted with cannot simply be spread out upon the marketplace, for just anyone to come and trample all over it.

    That I can even talk about it at all is a fairly recent development — but in the very terms of this New Evangelisation that I and others have written about, any decision to write about these matters is out of my hands anyway, and whatever I might ever say about it will be always obedient to the Sovereignty of the Holy Spirit.

  12. .
    “Such revelation as I have been gifted with cannot simply be spread out upon the marketplace, for just anyone to come and trample all over it.”

    Well, I will not question your decision, Jabba. Your light will remain under its bushel (whatever that is.)

  13. Jabba – you say at the outset that the New Ev translation message is “stylistically flawed”. Now that’s a bold assertion – care to give some examples?

  14. Where are you J? I do hope you’re well.

    I’ve had my botty smacked (unjustly, but kindly) on CP&S so I feel a sabbatical is due. You probably will agree.

    But if online, you’ve never had your botty smacked, you’ve never had anything to say! 🙂

    I hope you’re fine.

  15. ..Read your question re Jab on CP&S, just now Pasto., and am also concerned. I gather he is not in good health.

    If you read this Jabba, allay our concerns, if you will. Otherwise I shall have to start lighting candles in Santo Tomas.
    But only at one end.

  16. ..Actually aquinas was quite the mystic…a long side bernadette…as to who was closer to God?….well we all are equally close…who was more recollected…or properly disposed?…i would say of all created things the burning bush was the closest to God?…dont ask me how i know this…you would make fun of me if i tried to explain it….:-)

    • We are both aware that Mysticism may never be explained, but only understood,,,

      I would sort of agree that Aquinas was an intellectual mystic ; but I would emphatically agree with your characterisation of Bernadette !!

      Though — The Christ I’d say, rather than the burning bush.

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